Is Brent Rooker Any Good?

Brent Rooker

Although Rooker’s 2021 outcomes have been underwhelming, the underlying data suggests that Rooker might be far better than his so-so triple slash.

Irrespective of the metrics you want to use, whether it’s the classic triple slash or something else entirely:

Rooker’s offensive productivity has been below par, with a.201/.294/.397 slash line, an OPS of.691, a wRC+ of 91, a wOBA of.302, and an OPS+ of 90.

In fact, for someone who is billed as a glorified DH, this is woefully inadequate. To be viable, Rooker needs an OPS of at least.750, and an OPS of at least.800 is required to offer good value.

Josh Donaldson’s.816 OPS is the median among the 15 players in MLB who qualify as “DH” with more than 300 plate appearances this season, according to Fangraphs.

Rooker has struck out 32.5 percent of the time while walking only 7.6 percent of the time on his way to the triple slash he’s achieved.

That’s not a terrific ratio, but a 32.5 percent K rate for a power hitter isn’t uncommon, and he’s only had 197 plate appearances this year.

For all intents and purposes, this is Rooker’s rookie season and his first taste of MLB play following years of much above-average performance in the minors.

At this moment, the question isn’t whether Brent Rooker is too excellent for AAA, but rather if he’ll be designated an AAAA player.

Rooker’s anticipated batting line numbers are significantly better than his actual results, but that is true for many hitters who don’t use the entire field due to the shift; nonetheless, Rooker is not a typical dead pull hitter who is powerless against the shift.

Rooker pulls the ball a lot, 44% of the time, but he also goes to the opposite field 26% of the time. Rooker is in the top half of qualified hitters when it comes to hitting to the opposite field, but he isn’t in the top 25% when it comes to pulling.

Fangraphs has limited data on Rooker’s plate appearances, however he is shifted against 59 percent of the time, compared to 97 percent of the time for Max Kepler (yes, 97 percent is the real number).

Another factor to consider is whether or not the shift should genuinely hurt the batter. Ground ball hitters are the hardest hit, followed by fly ball hitters, and finally line-drive hitters.

Because line drive hitters’ balls have high exit velocities and strike the ground quickly, even if defenders are “shifted,” the ball must be hit directly at the defender in order to make a play.

Rooker is more of a line-drive hitter than a pure fly ball hitter, despite his exceptional power.

There are other factors to consider when it comes to hitting, other than Rooker being somewhat protected from the shift.

When determining whether a hitter’s terrible luck is due to bad luck or simply a lot of poor contact, exit velocity, launch angle, hard hit, and barrel rates are all relevant factors to consider.

At 90.9 mph, Rooker has a very good average exit velocity (top 82 percent in baseball). This year, his launch angle is 12.8 percent, which reflects his high line drive rate, but it’s not quite high enough to be considered “ideal” for a power hitter.